"Patriotism is the willingness to kill and be killed for trivial reasons." Bertrand Russell

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Their profit is our loss

The BBCs Richard Black:

The conclusion of research by the New Economics Foundation (Nef) found that the £10bn-plus profits just reported by Shell and BP are dwarfed by costs of emissions associated with their products.

Nef also suggests UK Treasury revenues from oil and gas may be a disincentive to curbing greenhouse gas emissions.

Therefore "The huge profits reported by oil and gas companies would turn into losses if the social costs of their greenhouse gas emissions were taken into account."

Reporting previously undisclosed figures, Nef's policy director Andrew Simms writes: "Our new calculations from research in progress with WWF, based on Treasury statistics, show that UK government income from the fossil fuel sector - conservatively estimated at £34.9bn ($61bn) - is greater than revenue from council tax, stamp duty, capital gains and inheritance tax combined.

"Policies aimed at reducing carbon emissions could therefore have a major impact on the government coffers; a serious disincentive to action."

Profits into loss

But, Nef concludes using more government figures, this revenue does not reflect costs associated with climate change resulting from burning oil and gas.

A report prepared for Defra and the Treasury estimates that each tonne of carbon dioxide emitted costs about £20 ($35) in environmental damage.

"Combining the emissions that stem from BP's direct activities and the sale of its products leads to 1,458m tonnes of CO2-equivalent entering the atmosphere, with a damage bill of £29bn ($51bn)," writes Andrew Simms.

"Subtracting that from the £11bn ($19bn) annual profit it has just reported puts it £18bn ($31bn) in the red; effectively bankrupt.

"The same calculation puts Shell £4.5bn ($8bn) in the red, even as it reports an annual profit of £13bn ($23bn)."

Full Story at the BBC